UK: £400k insurance con Zimbabwean features in new TV programme

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By UK Correspondent &

LONDON: A new ITV series follows the story of the notorious fraudster John Darwin, who faked his own death at sea in a plot with his wife Anne Darwin to collect his £250,000 life insurance policy.

Now, two decades on from the con-trick that made headlines across the country, the television series looks at people who attempted to do the same to claim life insurance worth hundreds of thousands of pounds in recent years.

Zimbabwean Thulile Bhebhe features in the programme after she tried to fake her husband’s death in an attempt to claim life insurance worth nearly £400,000.

Bhebhe, 51, told her insurance company Aviva that her husband had died in Zimbabwe in August 2016, and submitted false documents including a death certificate and an application form for a post-mortem examination. The insurer soon discovered inconsistency in the paperwork and decided to carry out a few checks.

When Aviva visited Bhebhe at home, she even said that she had attended her husband’s burial. But the company quickly revealed that he was working his shift as a nurse at a London hospital on the day he was alleged to have died thousands of miles away.

The insurance company reported Bhebhe to the City of London Police and its fraud department launched an investigation.

She was sentenced at Inner London Crown Court on 15 March 2021, to two years imprisonment suspended for two years and 100 hours of community service.

Bhebhe, 51, claimed her husband Bekezela Bhebhe died of a pulmonary embolism

Handing down sentence Judge Nigel Seed said: “It was an audacious fraud but you kept up your husband was dead over a period of time.

“Given that you have two dependant children at home and there’s a real prospect of rehabilitation, it is entirely in accordance with the sentencing guidelines that I should not make that sentence immediate but suspend it – to give you the opportunity to rehabilitate and find other ways of punishing you.”

Bhebhe was questioned by police and admitted he had credit card debts of £10,000, owed around £5,000 to HMRC in tax and was paying off a joint loan of around £15,000 with his wife.

He told officers: “I don’t think I’m involved in all this. I know very little about this insurance. The day it was taken over I was there in the house but I wasn’t fully involved, I was just there to sign the papers and say yes.

“I just thought it was ongoing insurance. I never really got into the details of the contracts, what the agreements are.”